Tec is back on track. I said so in my last review, and I think that’s still the case here. While last issue focused more on introducing characters, stakes and story-threads, issue #1030 has more of a focus on character work that builds upon the stakes and story-threads from #1029. It makes for a really solid issue because, in my opinion, one of Tomasi’s greatest strengths as a writer is character development. His stories always seem to be driven by the (in)actions and personalities of the characters rather than a specific plot. This is a style of writing that appeals to me, because I have always been more interested in stories that show how people try to deal with situations, and what makes them tick, than stories that are mainly focusing on the plot itself. I believe that this approach to writing will make characters more relatable, and when characters are relatable, the story becomes more accessible and interesting.

However, I recognize that there are two sides to this. While I really enjoy this issue and its emphasis on characters, I appreciate that there are readers out there who would like to see more plot development. With this issue in particular, the only plot development that really stands out for me is during Damian’s scene, where we see him actively doing detective work in order to figure out a mystery that revolves around Bruce. This is the stuff that has me intrigued and eager to pick up the next installment. I would have liked to see more of this throughout the issue, but, at the end of the day, it’s not something that really bothers me. Besides strong character work, there are a number of other things that I think Tomasi pulls off really well and probably could only have pulled off by focusing more on the characters.

For example, the creative team does a great job fleshing out the character of Nakano. While there’s probably plenty more to learn about this character, getting to see some of the conflict from Nakano’s perspective makes for a richer story in the long run. The creative team has managed to make me care about Nakano, and even feel sorry for him, thereby fueling the emotional core of the story. Another example is that this issue establishes that not only Batman but the entire Bat Family is having trouble with Nakano’s anti-vigilante campaign as well as with The Mirror and his followers. By including the Bat Family in the story along with Batman himself, the stakes are that much higher and it shows how far this goes. It’s good world-building.

That said, there are some things about the Bat Family scene that I find somewhat questionable. First, I am not a fan of the dialogue in this specific scene, because there’s this “talking heads” problem. I feel like everyone expresses the same thought, and while that in itself is perfectly fine because it shows that they are united in this situation, I also feel like they express their thoughts in the same voice. It makes for a bit of a monotone passage. It’s almost like a singular voice speaks, except that this singular voice is divided over multiple thought balloons that point to different characters. Had their voices been more unique, this scene would’ve at least been more entertaining for me.

Second, when someone thanks Batman for organizing the meet-up, it turns out that Batman nor any of the other Family members organized anything. A few panels later The Mirror attacks along with his crazy followers. While I don’t know yet how Tomasi will develop this over the course of this arc, I don’t really believe that Batman—especially when he and his Bat buddies are essentially being hunted—wouldn’t be on top of organizing a Family meeting. It seems more likely to me that Bruce would know exactly who is attending, where they are meeting, when, and what they’ll be talking about. I don’t buy the fact that Batman himself arrives late. I don’t buy that if he didn’t organize the meeting, he just assumes that it was Nightwing, whereas Nightwing claims that he had nothing to do with it. But, more importantly, I don’t buy that The Mirror could set the entire Bat Family up like this. Does he have access to their communication devices? Does he know how to contact everyone? If so, how? It just seems a bit much, but it doesn’t hurt the story or the overall reading experience for me.

A final point with regards to the writing is that I dislike that Damian quit being Robin outside of Detective Comics. I imagine there will be quite a few readers out there picking up this issue and wondering what exactly happened to Robin, because they did not read Teen Titans Annual #2. Ideally, stuff like this should happen within the pages of Detective Comics, if only because this can make for a rather jarring reading experience. That said, I really like the way that Tomasi and Evely handle the exposition. Tomasi provides some good insight into how Bruce processes all of this, thereby developing Bruce’s character a little more, and it’s beautifully illustrated by Evely.

Speaking of Evely, it’s not just that one scene that she illustrated beautifully. This entire issue, cover to cover, is amazing. I first discovered her work in the pages of Wonder Woman, and I’ve been a fan ever since. Particularly the way that Evely draws characters resonates with me: their emotions, the way that they hold themselves, the way that they interact with each other, and how they fit into the world around them is always very realistic, very human. Tomasi definitely writes the characters in a relatable way, but it’s Evely’s artwork that really brings them to live and illicits an emotional response from me. For example, it’s in large part because of her work that I feel sorry for Nakano, as we can see the fear and the pain on his face, and we can see how he confides in his wife. Evely’s backgrounds are also interesting and detailed. And my favorite pages from this issue are the ones where we see a detailed rendition of the Black Casebook. Evely’s style is unique, especially for a character like Batman, and I think she’s a great match for Tomasi’s writing style as they’re both focusing on character development first, and plot development second. But Evely isn’t the only artist: Lopes’ colors are vibrant and layered, and I honestly can’t imagine another colorist on this issue. Even if you don’t care about the writing, I’d say this book is worth it for the art alone.

Recommended if…

  • You are a fan of Damian.
  • You are a fan of the Bat Family.
  • You are a fan of Evely’s amazing artwork.
  • You like an emphasis on character development over plot development.

Overall: I think this is another strong issue. The writing and art both contribute to the good character work. There is less focus on plot development, but that allows for this issue to breathe, and for the characters to come to life. The artwork is outstanding and the writing is solid. Tomasi, Evely and Lopes have some real synergy going here. I’d definitely like to see more from this creative team. Recommended!

Score: 8.5/10

Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.